Global Problems and the Culture of Capitalism

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Global Problems and the Culture of Capitalism

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Pearson Publishers
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(From the Preface)

Over the past 400–600 years a culture and society, originating for the most part in Europe and dedicated to the idea of trade as the ultimate source of well-being, began to expand to all parts of the globe. In many ways it is the most successful culture and society the world has ever seen, its technology, wealth, and power monuments to its success; but accompanying its expansion have been problems—growing social and economic inequality, environmental destruction, mass starvation, and social unrest. Most members of this society and culture perceive these problems as distant from themselves or as challenges for them to meet. However, there is the possibility that these problems, which threaten to negate everything this culture has accomplished, are intrinsic to the culture itself. That is the possibility explored in this book.

The outline of this book emerged when, a few years ago, my colleagues at the State University of New York at Plattsburgh, James Armstrong and Mark Cohen, and I began developing a course on global problems. We wanted to create a course that would help students understand the major global issues that they confront in the mass media, problems such as the so-called population explosion, famine and hunger, global environmental destruction, the emergence and spread of new diseases, so-called ethnic conflict and genocides, and terrorism and social protest. We learned quickly that to make the course successful, we had to overcome the often ethnocentric perspectives of the students, perspectives that were often reinforced by media coverage of global affairs. We needed also to compensate for the students’ lack of background in anthropology, history and economics, all crucial for understanding the roots of the problems we were to examine. Finally, we needed to illustrate that the problems we examined were relevant to them; that the problems would affect them either directly or indirectly, and that their actions now or in the future would determine the extent to which the origins of these problems could be acknowledged, let alone ever addressed. The form of this book emerged from our efforts at dealing with these pedagogical issues and the classroom interactions that these efforts stimulated.

This Website is designed to describe the book, and to provide access to Internet resourcesexercises, and discussion questions for readers, students, and instructors.   There are links to sites arranged by topics covered in the book, links to country information, to information on corporations, links to global media, along with links to map sites.   There are also thesis questions to encourage discussion of topics discussed in the book, and exercises associated with the descriptions of Websites.   You can also examine the Table of Contents and read the introductions to each of the chapters. 

There is, in addition, a Global Updates page that contains information on important global developments that relate to topics addressed in the book.  Finally, we have added a collection of Online readings, The Online Global Problems Reader, to complement the book and provide students, instructors, and general readers with additional perspectives on global problems.



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Richard H. Robbins

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